The first Test between Australia and India is set for a fascinating final day after an action-packed and at times ill-tempered day 4 at Adelaide Oval. The fiery rivalry harboured by the two cricketing powers finally reared its head, with Australian batsmen David Warner, Shane Watson and Steve Smith engaging in heated exchanges with India’s Virat Kohli, Varun Aaron, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma.
India added 75 runs to their overnight score for the loss of five wickets to be all out for 444 in a somewhat disappointing finish to a fine team innings. Nathan Lyon picked up three wickets in a fabulous exhibition of off-spin bowling to finish with 5/134, while Peter Siddle claimed the other two scalps.
Chris Rogers’ rough trot continued when he was Australia’s first man out for 21, leaving the hosts at 1/38 in the 13th over, while Watson was bowled by Mohammed Shami for 33 after a 102-run stand with Warner.
During that partnership, Warner – on 66 – was bowled by Aaron, who celebrated wildly. But Warner was recalled after replays revealed Aaron had overstepped, and the tempestuous opener let the paceman know all about it.
It was the first of several testy moments: Watson and Dhawan renewed their hostilities after the Indian opener infamously mocked Watson’s injury-prone tendencies during an ODI last year; captain Kohli remonstrated with Warner; and Steve Smith reacted to a ridiculous appeal by Rohit Sharma, sparking another confrontation.
After his courageous efforts in the first innings and in the field with a restrictive back injury, Michael Clarke was caught behind for just seven off Aaron. But another first innings hero, Warner, brought up his second century of the Test and celebrated in similarly Phillip Hughes-inspired fashion to his emotional day 1 knock.
Warner was bowled around his legs by Karn Sharma for 102.
All-rounder Mitchell Marsh took it upon himself to up the run-rate, smacking three sixes in a scorching 40 off just 26 balls, before holing out to Rohit Sharma while attempting to clear the rope for a fourth time.
First innings top-scorer Smith brought up his half-century shortly before stumps, surviving on 52 at the end of the day along with Brad Haddin (13 not out) as Australia reached 5/290 – a lead of 363 with a day to play.
Stud of the day
Lyon ensured a swift end to India’s innings during a magical spell. The gritty little spinner dismissed danger-man Rohit Sharma with a brilliant caught-and-bowled, had Saha caught by Watson six overs later and took just two balls to get rid of Ishant Sharma, nabbed in close by Smith.
The Warner-Aaron confrontation lit the fuse after three-and-a-half days of Test cricket played with the utmost goodwill and genial spirit. It may have provided Australia with the impetus to rediscover their killer instinct and put India on the rack on day 5.
With Australia 363 runs ahead, expect an aggressive declaration from Clarke that will give his bowlers enough time to have a decent crack at getting 10 wickets. India boasts the batsmen to knock off a sub-400 target if given a full day to bat, but the hosts are certainly in the box-seat – even if a draw appears the most likely outcome.
Warner’s century was his sixth of 2014, leaving him just one short of Ricky Ponting’s record for 100s by an Australian in a calendar year.
Around the world
In-form Kane Williamson guided New Zealand to a four-wicket win over Pakistan in the second ODI at Sharjah with 70 not out. Pakistan were bowled out in the 49th over for 252, with opener Mohammed Hafeez (76) receiving little support – other than a handy 47 from captain Misbah-ul-Haq. Black Caps newcomer Adam Henry took 4/45. A 103-run opening stand by Dean Brownlie (47) and Anton Devcich (58) laid the platform, before the tourists endured a mild collapse – four wickets in eight overs for 38 runs, with Haris Shoahil contributing to Devcich’s run-out and then taking three wickets. But skipper Williamson, Luke Ronchi (36 off 32 balls) and Daniel Vettori (13 not out off eight balls) guided the Kiwis to the series-levelling victory with four overs to spare.